Bill DeFries, at left, with friends Bud Hauser, Tom Meyer, Scott Hull and Mike Bevis at Beef O’Brady’s restaurant in a 2009 photo. CHRIST STEWART/STAFF

Restaurant owner says response to NFL boycott has been ‘overwhelming’

The response to a local restaurant owner’s declaration that he will not air NFL games while players protest during the playing of the national anthem has been “overwhelming,” that restaurant’s owner said Thursday.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Bill DeFries, owner of Beef O’Brady’s restaurant in Beavercreek.

DeFries, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, announced Wednesday that he respects the right of NFL players to voice their views. But he believes the national anthem is the wrong setting for protests, and he contends he has a right to voice his own disapproval.

“They can certainly exercise their right to free speech — but not during that one period of time, as far as I’m concerned,” he said Wednesday.

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His declaration on his restaurant’s Facebook page has drawn more than 915 reactions — most of them positive — and nearly 300 shares as of Thursday morning.

“This is amazing …..well I am not watching it at home now so (I) might just head your way Sunday,” Joseph Stone wrote on the Beef O’Brady’s Facebook page.

“I haven’t been to your restaurant in YEARS, but I will be visiting very soon,” Anastasia McCoy also wrote on the Facebook page. “I’m not a football fan, my husband is a die-hard, and even he is done with it until they can get it together.”

Other commenters weren’t supportive.

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“Well…when your business declines because you’re not getting any customers, let us know how that goes,” Joshua Clegg wrote.

“I’m hearing from friends, from customers and employees and strangers,” DeFries said. “And I’m getting phone calls and voice mails of positive support.”

DeFries shared a voice mail from a caller who said, “I’m supporting you all the way.”

Meanwhile, CBS Sports and the Wall Street Journal have reported that DirectTV is letting “at least some” customers offended by the protests cancel subscriptions to its Sunday Ticket offerings. The Journal said that information came from “customer service representatives.”

But other reports cast doubt on that, however, with some saying no definitive corporate policy has been announced.

Messages seeking comment were sent to several spokespeople for AT&T Inc., which owns DirectTV.

About 150 NFL players kneeled or linked arms before or during the performance or playing of the national anthem this past Sunday. Many did it to protest or call attention to what they feel are instances of racial injustice or police brutality. Others did it to express solidarity with or support for fellow players.

The protests started last year with a San Francisco 49ers player, Colin Kaepernick, who is no longer with an NFL team. But the protests picked up steam after President Donald Trump criticized them late last week.

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